The dark horse of 2020's PC games is definitely Genshin Impact, a sprawling, free-to-play action RPG with an open world inspired by Breath of the Wild. If you haven't heard, it's pretty fantastic (opens in new tab)—even if it still manages to sneak in some microtransactions reminiscent of mobile "gacha" games. But did you know that you can also play Genshin Impact co-op with three other friends or strangers?
It's great to have four-player multiplayer in Genshin, but it's also not immediately accessible to new players and comes with some restrictions on what you can do and who you can play with. Don't worry, though. This guide breaks down the whole process, including how to unlock co-op and what activities aren't available.
Genshin Impact crossplay
Before we get started, it's worth mentioning that, yes, Genshin Impact does have crossplay and cross saves. PC players can seamlessly play with mobile users and can also play Genshin Impact on mobile without needing to do any extra steps. However, PS4 players cannot play with either PC or mobile users—probably due to Sony's restrictions on crossplay.
Genshin Impact co-op: How to unlock it
Instead of being able to play with friends right away, Genshin Impact's multiplayer mode requires beating a sizable chunk of the story and progressing pretty far into the game. Once you start playing, you'll be introduced to the Adventure Rank (AR) system, which is basically your overall level—not to be confused with the individual levels of your characters. By reaching new levels in your Adventure Rank, you'll unlock more features like daily quests, expeditions, and dungeons.
To unlock Genshin Impact's co-op multiplayer, you have to be Adventure Rank 16.
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That took me about 12 hours to reach, but I'm sure you could do it much faster. The good news is that everything you do contributes toward your Adventure Rank. Story quests, sidequests, and even just running around the open world, cracking open chests, solving puzzles, and fighting bosses will all help. So whatever you feel like doing at any given moment will also push you toward rank 16.
Once you level up, co-op will automatically unlock for you and can be found in the main menu. You can also access multiplayer while entering Domains (Genshin Impact's version of dungeons that unlock later), to quickly pair yourself up with another player looking to run the same one.
How Genshin Impact's co-op works
Once you unlock multiplayer, you can join other people's games or three of them enter your world. One person will always be the host, with everyone coming into their version of the world. You're free to run around together, exploring the map, or doing most any activity out in the open world. There are some restrictions, though.
The most immediate one you'll notice is that your party size will shrink according to the number of players in a co-op session. In singleplayer, you can have up to four characters that you can rapidly switch between. If one person joins your game, each player will only have access to two characters each. If three players play together, the host gets two characters and the visitors each get one. If four people play together, each player gets one character. You'll have to coordinate who plays what so you can still queue up big elemental damage combos.
Another thing to mention is that Genshin Impact has crossplay with PS4, iOS, and Android users. So if your friends are playing on their phones, that won't affect whether you can co-op.
Here's a quick rundown of what you can't do:
- Any story quests. They're all paused when co-op starts.
- Spiral Abyss, a special, multi-floor dungeon you'll unlock at AR20.
- Players can use shops.
- While visiting another player's world, you cannot pick up Amenoculus or Geoculus (the collectibles that boost your stamina), open chests, or make offerings to the Statues of the Seven. Host players can still do all of this stuff, though.
That might sound pretty limiting, but really it just means you can't take anything in the world away from its host player, like treasure.
Here's what you can do:
- Domains and Ley Line Outcrops (a kind of open-world challenge).
- Daily quests.
- Hunt monsters and bosses found in the open world areas.
One thing to note is that while players can both use two of the same character in the open world, in Domains, everyone will need to use a different character. Multiple people can't enter a domain with Venti, for example.
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